Cancer Drug Shortage

March 16, 2012 by staff 

Cancer Drug Shortage, Health Canada is speeding up the review process needed to approve replacement medications in a bid to ease the drug shortage affecting the country, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq confirmed Thursday.

“What I have committed to … is to initiate the review of any new applications within 24 hours,” Aglukkaq said by phone from Ottawa. “Having said that, we will review each application and ensure the product is safe before approving it.”

Normally, it takes about six months to complete an assessment and approve a drug for use in Canada, but Aglukkaq said with the urgency of the situation, “we’re looking at cutting that down to a month.”

Ottawa has called on drug makers to find alternative sources from outside Canada to replace drugs in short supply — including anesthetics, painkillers, cancer drugs and antibiotics — because of production cuts at the Sandoz Canada plant in Boucherville, Que.

The generic drug maker, which provides the majority of injectable medications in Canada, began cutting back production to address concerns by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about quality standards at the plant. A fire March 4 further curbed production.

Aglukkaq has been saying it would take a few weeks to begin processing applications — a time frame that hadn’t been sitting well with provinces and territories, whose hospitals, pharmacies and patients have increasingly been feeling the fallout from the drug shortfalls.

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